It’s no secret that sleep is good for you. Regardless of who you are or what you do, sleep is one of the key pillars of good health and is capable of impacting your whole day.
Think about it – when you have a good night’s sleep, you’re probably nailing life. You’re on top of your game at work, you’ve meal prepped your lunches, you’re exercising regularly and you’re just a much happier person. In contrast, when you have a bad night’s sleep, you’ve probably snoozed your alarm so many times that you don’t have time to eat breakfast, let alone pack lunch for the day, you’re now running late, which means you’re frustrated and flustered when you get to work. It’s not until you’re on your way to the gym after work that you realise you actually have not one ounce of energy for the gym. All of this? It stems from a night without rest.
Sleep is absolutely paramount in a healthy lifestyle because when you’re sleeping, your body is able to recharge for the next day. During sleep, your body heals damaged cells, boosts your immunity, recovers from the day’s activities and recharges your heart and cardiovascular system.
If you don’t get a decent night’s sleep, your body doesn’t have the chance to fully reset for the next day. Of course, this means that you can become extra drowsy; you can struggle to take in any new information or remember things, and your coffee intake goes from one cup a day to three cups.
But did you know a lack of sleep could increase the risk of weight gain and obesity? Yep, that’s right. Not only does a small amount of shut eye mean you’ll need a few extra coffees the next day, but studies have shown that when you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to crave unhealthy, greasy and sugary foods, resulting in weight gain. Further to this, sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of ghrelin increase (making you hungrier) and your levels of leptin decrease.
Does your extra cup of coffee in the afternoon and your penchant for a few rows of chocolate make sense now? We get you because we’ve been there. That’s why we’ve set ourselves up with a foolproof evening routine that ensures we have a solid amount of zzz’s each night. Sure, it means we have to be organised and be in bed by a certain time each night, but that small timeframe of getting organised each night is far less stressful and totally worth it compared to the hours lost when we have a bad night’s sleep.
Our Winter Wellness Challenge is all about making small changes that make a big difference and everything we’ve shown you so far this month are fast, easy and manageable ways to make those small changes.
1. It goes without saying but we limit all caffeine (including black and green tea) before we go to bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and does the opposite of winding your body down. Instead, we opt for a cup of herbal tea instead. Peppermint tea usually does the trick but we also love the specific ‘sleep’ teas that can be found on supermarket shelves. They usually include ingredients such as lavender, camomile, peppermint and fennel, which all promote rest and relaxation.
2. We release any tension from our bodies by giving ourselves a massage. Not any type of massage though; we use a foam roller for maximum benefit. A lot of you probably think foam rollers are specifically for people who exercise regularly, but we’re here to tell you, they’re not. Everyone should be giving themselves a self-massage because it releases tension and relieves pain from our muscles. Whilst it is important to be foam rolling if you are working out regularly, it’s also really important if your job requires you to sit down a lot. Foam rolling is a type of myofascial massage that keeps your muscles loose and well hydrated and eases pain in the tissues that wrap around, connect and support your muscles. When your muscles are tight and sore, your body becomes stiff and is unable to fully rest properly, which inhibits your sleep.
3. We’re not sure about you, but we always potter around the house at bedtime. We like to go to bed with the house (relatively) clean so we can start the next day fresh and ready to go. Whilst we potter, we put on some calming music that soothes and encourages rest and relaxation. It’s such a simple thing to do each evening but we can’t even begin to tell you how nice it is!
4. We put our phones down an hour before we go to bed. To be honest, this was a hard one to get used to but ever since we’ve put our phone to charge in the kitchen each night, we’re able to fall asleep a whole lot easier than ever before. The constant stimulation our eyes and brain get from our phones, the television and computer screens all impact how restful our sleep is. Instead of being on our phones right up until we fall asleep, we use the extra time to read a book or a magazine and if time permits, we’ll meditate.
5. We try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each morning, so our body can maintain the same routine and rhythm.
6. We use a sleep mask, which we swear, has changed our lives. Sleep masks are amazing because not only do they block out any light but also, as soon as we put ours on each night, it signals to our body that it’s time to go to sleep. We don’t know how it works but we swear, as soon as we pull it over our eyes, we’re out like a light. Silk masks, in particular, are also worthwhile because the cool silk on your face is really good for your skin. It helps prevents fine lines and wrinkles.
7. We rub the soles of our feet with magnesium oil. Magnesium helps to get us to sleep but the biggest difference we’ve noticed since rubbing it on our feet is that we stay asleep during the night. We don’t wake up tossing and turning all night long and we wake up feeling rested and ready to go. Magnesium also helps with muscle soreness and tightness so if we’ve had a particularly gruelling workout, we’ll rub it on our sore spots followed by the foam roller.
Have you got any tried and tested sleep tips that work for you night after night? The above tips are what works for us but we’re sure there’s more out there. Let us know how you’re going with our Winter Wellness Challenge in the comments below!